you should've been around 25 years ago in 1996 when a cold snap to beat most cold snaps hit the Princeton area.
In an 18-day period from Jan 18 through Feb. 5, the low was below zero each night, except for one day when it was at zero.
For six days from Jan. 30 through Feb. 4 the low temps at night were -28, -32, -37, -39, -35 and -31, and on all but one of those days the daytime highs were below zero.
It warmed up on Feb. 5 when the low was -17 but the high climbed all the way up to 7 above.
The weather was bad enough that on Friday, Feb. 2, when the low in the Princeton area was -39 and the high for the day was -16, Gov. Arne Carlson called off school for the whole state, with many school events and other events being canceled the night before on Thursday.
The figures on the area temperatures came from Gordon Wold, a farmer who lived about 10 miles west of Princeton in Santiago Township. He reported that in only three winters of the 38 that he had been taking readings for the National Weather Service (he ended up doing it for more than 40 years) had there been a time when the low was -38.
Supt. Tom Kleppe of the Princeton district had already made the decision to call off school that day before the governor made his announcement. It was the third day that winter that school had been canceled in Princeton and students were to miss a day of spring vacation with a makeup day on Thursday, April 4.
Debbie Jenson, secretary for the activities department at the high school, remembers that Friday very well. The night before she had a flat tire in the high school parking lot and was going to leave it there and get a ride home. But two guys changed her tire, she got air in the spare at Casey's, and went home, her due date three weeks away. But her daughter Hannah was born the next day. "I didn't go outside for three weeks," she said."It was so cold."
Farmers went through a bad stretch with their equipment and their cattle. The digital thermometer at the Wayne Patten farm north of town hit -40 on that Friday morning and when it wouldn't go any farther, it began fluctuating wildly, rising to 11 above before going back down to 40 below.
By the following Tuesday the temperature had risen 50 degrees to 10 above during the day and the Pattens' milk hauler no longer had to get hot water from the Patten milk house to heat the frigid milk pump on his truck to make it work. That was the first morning in eight days that the Pattens let their cows outside for exercise.
Wayne Patten, farming with son Larry, said that during a two-week stretch of cold weather they used 400 gallons of propane to heat the calf barn and shop. Wayne had decided to keep calves in a heated barn rather than in a calf hutch that winter and was glad he had done so, three calves being born during the cold stretch.
The cold stretch was also hard on equipment. The Pattens had a faulty silo unloader gear box and they had to take it down from the silo and haul it 60 miles away to be repaired, and then wait a few days to pick it up.
Princeton Public Works superintendent Tom Mismash had only two of five trucks working and one of them had a bad gear, he said. At Merlin's Restaurant west of town there were propane problems and one pilot light wouldn't stay lit. Then a couple days later a furnace that was installed only a year earlier needed a new motor to be installed, co-owner Sue Weitnauer saying the cold had caused the furnace to work extra hard.
Weather watcher Wold said he didn't need the thermometer to tell him it was unusually cold, saying the wood pile he used for heating he house had dwindled rapidly.
City mail carrier Jim Dery, who was pictured all bundled up on the front page of the Union-Eagle, took the cold in stride. "It's not bad," he said with a straight face as he delivered mail on the Friday school was called off. This Friday morning, just few minutes ago, I ran into a guy who was a Princeton High School student at the time and his car wouldn't start for about a week. "We ended up doing it the old-fashioned way," he said, "pulling the car with another car and popping the clutch to try to get it to start."
No doubt it's going to be cold around Princeton and around the state for five or six days this weekend and into next week. We're not going to like it, even if you profess to like Minnesota winters even when it's like this. But it won't be as bad as it was 25 years ago this week when nearly everyone, tough or not, warmed up their cars before going someplace. Everywhere you went there were cars running. And those were the days when remote starters weren't commonplace.
A native Princetonian told me yesterday, "We've had a pretty easy winter so far." I agreed. And, after all, we are 46 days past the shortest day of the year and heading toward warmer weather.
OK — I guess we'll just have to grin and bear it, as well as pretending that we're tough Minnesotans who say there's nothing else to do but make your way through this kind of weather.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
Feb. 16, 1951 — Princeton stayed in a tie for first place with Milaca in the Rum River Conference with a 44-33 win over Braham.
Feb. 18, 1956 —Don Muller and Rog Wahlquist each scored 17 points in a 65-46 loss to Cambridge, and Corky Hatch had 15 in a 65-36 loss to undefeated Foley as Norm Grow led the Falcons with 28 points.
Feb. 9, 1961 — Bob Nick had 20 points and Jim Knutson 11 in a 53-27 win over Ogilvie.
Feb. 17, 1966 — Princeton lost 66-62 to Milaca in overtime. Steve Cartwright led Princeton with 24 points, giving him 77 in his last three games. Tom Sahlstrom led Milaca with 31 points, those two players running 1-2 in the conference scoring race.
Feb. 17, 1971 — Princeton beat Milaca 70-60 as Mike Barg led with 19 points . . . PHS grad Tom Meyer won the two-mile run for Mankato State in a dual meet.
Feb. 11, 1976 — Michelle Ziegler won two events as Princeton edged Buffalo in gymnastics. Sue Newton tied for a first and Kelly Durelle had a first.
Feb. 12, 1981 — Jesse Barthel, David Barthel, Ron Trunk and Brad Bakken registered pins in the first four weights in a 38-16 wrestling win over Chisago Lakes. Dave Rittenour also had a pin.
Feb. 13, 1986 — The hockey team won the Rum River hockey title as Butch Vanderhoff got the shutout in a 3-0 win over Sauk Rapids . . . Heidi Miller had 14 points in a 37-31 win over St. Francis that gave Princeton a two-game lead in the Rum River Conference.
Feb. 14, 1991 — The hockey team won its sixth straight Rum River title in the seven years the conference had sponsored the sport, beating Mora 3-2 . . . The girls basketball team won 59-56 in double overtime at Duluth Denfeld as Corrine Lundell had 26 points, Alison Ringaman 9 points and Tanya Dorr 9 assists.
Feb. 15, 1996 — Princeton won its sixth straight swimming title in the Rum River as Mark Knapp, Peter Green and Risman New each won two events . . . Shawn Stene made the winning basket in a 44-41 win over Chisago Lakes and then scored 21 points in a 72-64 win over Milaca.
Feb. 8, 2001 — The boys basketball team (8-8, 4-4 in the Rum) beat Mora 55-50, beat Pine City 57-43 and beat Cloquet 53-48 as Dane Larsen led with 18 points against Mora as Eric Strandberg blocked 9 shots, Mark Patnode had 11 points against Pine City, and David Myers had 28 in the win over Cloquet . . . The chance for a conference title slipped away as the boys hockey team lost 3-2 to Mora in overtime after leading 2-1.
Feb. 9, 2006 — Scott Roehl had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Jared Berggren 13 points and 5 blocked shoots in a 61-59 loss to St. Michael-Albertville, while Princeton (9-5, 2-5 in the M8) beat Sartell 55-45 as Roehl had 17 point and 20 rebounds, and Berggren 10 points and 6 blocks. The Tigers blocked 19 shots in the two games,
Feb. 10, 2011 — Dan Voce and Chase Lindenfelser scored goals but Cambridge beat Princeton 3-2 in overtime in the annual Rusty Skates game . .. Lydia Cameron set the school record in floor exercise at 9.25 in a loss to St. Michael-Albertville, breaking the 9.1 score in 1991 by her coach Joleen Winkelman.
Feb. 11, 2016 — Princeton (15-7, 7-4 in the M8) beat Sauk Rapids 6-2 in boys hockey as Jake S.Carlson had a "pure" hat trick with three goals in 10 minutes . . . Big Lake beat Princeton (8-13, 3-7 in the M8) 79-66 as Brady Peterson scored 38 points . . . Princeton (13-7, 6-2 in the M8) beat Big Lake 46-37 and beat Stillwater 58-56 in overtime as Taylor Laabs had 39 points in the two games and got to 1,000 for her career.
Here and there in sports . . .
The PHS boys basketball team is off to a 6-1 start after a 94-84 win at home against Big Lake Thursday and a 93-87 win over North Branch on Tuesday. The loss came in the second game of the season, 89-82 to Delano. The team is averaging 89.7 points a game, 91 in the six Mississippi 8 games (6-0) so far. Hadyn Stay leads in scoring with a 21.4 average while shooting 59%, and in rebounding at 9.6. Callahan Oneil is averaging 18 points, Cooper Drews 17.7, Manny Flicek 12.4, Cooper Nowak 9.3, and Michael Angstman 5.9. Flicek leads in assists with 6.6 a game and Nowak is at 5. Flicek and Drews are tied for second in rebounds at 6.3. The team records the past two seasons have been 27-5 and 25.4, leaving the program at 58-10 (.853) the last three seasons . . . Word came Thursday from the Minnesota State High School League that, after fall high school tournaments in Minnesota were called off, there will be winter tournaments unless something happens that makes it not safe. The tournaments will be later than usual because of the late start of the winter seasons, hockey ending April 3 and basketball the following weekend, with no consolation or fifth-place games. Some of last winter's tournaments were canceled and there were no spring sports in Minnesota . . . The men's basketball team at the University of Minnesota, ranked in the Top 25 for a month with five wins over ranked teams and said by many to be headed for a good seed in the NCAA tournament, has collapsed. The latest collapse came Thursday night in a 76-72 loss at Rutgers. Leading by six late in the game the Gophers allowed a 10-2 run by Rutgers. Then, leading 70-66 with 2:22 to go, they allowed another 10-2 run by Rutgers, did not get another point and had an unforced traveling violation in that stretch. The team is 11-7, 4-7 in the Big Ten, losing three Big Ten games in a row after blasting a highly-ranked Michigan team in Minneapolis, 75-57. The Gophers are 11-1 at home, 0-6 on the road. An NCAA berth is fading away . . . The PHS wrestling team lost to Forest Lake Thursday but beat Lakeville North, a much, much larger school, 36-33 . . . The Minnesota Twins have been in the headlines recently, resigning designated hitter Nelson Cruz, signing a top defensive shortstop in Andrelton Simmons who won a bunch of Gold Gloves with the Angels, signing former Chicago White Sox closer Alex Colome, and getting San Francisco reliever Shaun Anderson in a trade, following the loss of five relievers to free agency, prime among those five Trevor May, a guy with great promise who was really good some days and not so good on others . . . Former Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario, a free agent who the Twins apparently deemed expendable with some promising young outfielders on the horizon, signed a one-year $8 million contract with the Cleveland Indians. I'm hoping the Twins didn't let him go just because he did some goofy things. He led Minnesota in RBIs the past three seasons, was sixth among all MLB outfielders in extra-base hits the last three seasons with 200, and was sixth among all MBL players in RBIs the past two seasons at 151. He had an average of .353 with runners in scoring position last season for the Twins and the last two years was third among all players in the majors with a .342 average with runners in scoring position.Those are impressive stats. I hope one or two of those minor league outfielders the Twins are counting on come through. Rosario is a lifetime .353 hitter in Cleveland and maybe the Indians figure he'll be close to that with them.
Next week: Memory Lane with February news items from 1896, 1921, 1946, 1971 and 1996. included is a 1996 item about a former Princeton police officer being charged with second-degree assault and terroristic threats shortly after settling out of court for large sums of money following suits against the Princeton Police Department and Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Department that alleged sexual harassment.